500 new jobs. The biggest market in the area with a Eur 2.2 Million investment value. High European standards. 100 agribusinesses within the market. Aiming an investment of $1,9 Million for implementing 100% energy from solar panel system and a dedicated distribution and collection center for export purposes worth $0.9 Million. Just a simple fact checking!

It’s not an electoral campaign promise. It’s not even a dream. It’s a vision grown into a masterpiece. The first modern agricultural market with European standards in Albania.

It’s the vision of an extremely hardworking man, Petrit Çela, with a 24 years’ experience in agro-trading. Three years ago he had a dream to build a big market, different from any other market in Elbasan. Today his market is operating in full capacity.

Success is no accident. It is hard work

It’s 7.30 in the morning. For most of the people it’s almost the beginning of the day work. For Petrit it’s almost the end of it. Every morning by 3 am he should be present and crisp at the market, as the place is overcrowded with almost 1 thousand farmers daily, who trade their freshly picked fruits and veggies to food merchants, who seize the opportunity to buy great quality local products and sell them into downtown Elbasan and even in Tirana.

Today he has some special guests. During his dream fulfillment he has been assisted by USAID development programs AgroCapital and recently by SmartCapital, both projects implemented by CBS organization. Catherine Johnson, USAID/Albania Country Representative and Dennis Wesner, USAID/Albania General Development Officer together with representatives of CBS organization are in his investment premises.

100 agribusinesses operate within the AgroMarket that counts about 500 employees. Photo: Ina Kosta/AgroWeb

Mr Çela was the winner of two national grants worth $150,000, through AgroCapital technical assistance. He was assisted twice with loans through LORES system at a combined value of $600,000. Under this support, Çela has not just built a modern agriculture market in Elbasan qualified to meet European standards employing 500 people, but has also obtained the ISO 22000 certification in the framework of REG / B-REDI USAID regional program. The AgroMarket in Elbasan is the only one having this high standard certification in the whole Albania.

Mr Cela, owner of AgroMarket, Elbasan plans to install a brand new voltaic solar panel system fully covering the electricity costs of the whole facility. Photo: AgroWeb

Congratulating Mr Cela for his great job already done, Dr Johnson stated that this is an incredible achievement. ‘You, with your fantastic vision, are the success story we want for all Albanian agribusinesses to be. It’s exactly what we want for Albanian agriculture. Agribusinesses with high quality standards, with so many people employed, with so many fresh and quality fruits and vegetables”, Dr Johnson states.

Mr Cela, with the enthusiasm clearly noticeable in his eyes and as a hard worker knowing all the challenges this kind of investment requires, not just appreciates the good and encouraging words. Indeed he is thankful and openly admits it.

“I had this big dream. AgroCapital helped me to realise my dream, giving lots of support by assisting me in filing all the documents for grants and a loan. I didn’t know anything nor had I a clue about paperwork and documents. And I’m very grateful for the support given by USAID project and CBS”, Mr Cela proudly admits of what he has done since three years now.

Dr Johnson reveals quite an interesting fact. She has past experiences of being a nutritionist and genuinely carries a real interest in food quality. And what’s more important, she values the Albanian fruits and vegetables as great products. “You have quality fresh fruits and vegetables here, with no chemicals, great taste and high nutritional values”, Dr Johnson explains giving Petrit a piece of advice; to have more fresh pots of herbs in his market so the people could buy and have them in their home.

From left to right - Mr. Ilir Pilku, Agribusiness Development Director of CBS, Mr Petrit Çela owner of AgroMarket in Elbasan, Dr. Catherine Johnson, USAID/Albania Country Representative, Mr. Enio Jaço, Executive Director of CBS and Mr. Dennis Wesner, USAID/Albania General Development Officer in the premises of AgroMarket Elbasan.  Photo: Ina Kosta/AgroWeb

The Smart Vision

The market is a huge investment but for Mr Cela is never enough. He plans to improve and grow his business through two significant new investments – a total combined $2.8Million value. Firstly, he plans to install a brand new voltaic solar panel system fully covering the electricity costs of the whole facility as well as the market operations of 56 agro units. The Investment is worth $1.9Million. Secondly, he plans to expand the premises with a dedicated Distribution and Collection Centre for export purposes. That investment is worth $0.9 Million.

He will be fully assisted by SmartCapital with an advanced Investment plan and access to financing. The bulk of financing would be facilitated through IPARD 2 Investment Grants (EU-Albanian Government grant), which has priority for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments. These types of investments are expected to become even more cost-effective in the future. The Government just passed a Law on Renewable Energy. So the light is green and Petrit knows his way ahead. With the visit of USAID representatives coming to the end, he will finish the hectic first part of the work for today. Tomorrow he will get up by 3 am. And he will do what he knows best; he will dream bigger and act smarter. /AgroWeb.org